Mobile Tech- Africa’s Tech Edge

How the continent’s many obstacles, from widespread poverty to failed states, allowed African entrepreneurs to beat the West at reinventing money for the mobile age

Mobile money exploded in Africa because the continent’s cash economy was ripe for disruption. Even as the number of city dwellers wishing to send money to rural relatives surged, the prevailing technology was still pressing an envelope of cash into the hands of a bus driver or trusted friend heading home. Some paranoiacs would wedge a parcel above the wheel of a bus, sending the intended recipient instructions for how to retrieve it many dusty miles later. Read more

Personal Touch Signature better securty for Mobile Devices

New system provides security by monitoring how user touches the screen

Passwords, gestures and fingerprint scans are all helpful ways to keep a thief from unlocking and using a cell phone or tablet. Cybersecurity researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have gone a step further. They’ve developed a new security system that continuously monitors how a user taps and swipes a mobile device. If the movements don’t match the owner’s tendencies, the system recognizes the differences and can be programmed to lock the device.

Polo Chau

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Polo Chau is an assistant professor in the School of Computational Science and Engineering

The new system is called LatentGesture and was used during a Georgia Tech lab study using Android devices. The system was nearly 98 percent accurate on a smartphone and 97 percent correct on tablets. The research team will present the findings for the first time at the end of April.

“The system learns a person’s ‘touch signature,’ then constantly compares it to how the current user is interacting with the device,” said Polo Chau, a Georgia Tech College of Computing assistant professor who led the study.

To test the system, Chau and his team set up an electronic form with a list of tasks for 20 participants. They were asked to tap buttons, check boxes and swipe slider bars on a phone and tablet to fill out the form. The system tracked their tendencies and created a profile for each person.

After profiles were stored, the researchers designated one person’s signature as the “owner” of the device and repeated the tests. LatentGesture successfully matched the owner and flagged everyone else as unauthorized users.

“Just like your fingerprint, everyone is unique when they use a touchscreen,” said Chau. “Some people slide the bar with one quick swipe. Others gradually move it across the screen. Everyone taps the screen with different pressures while checking boxes.”

The research team also programmed the system to store five touch signatures on the same device – one “owner” and four authorized users. When someone other than the owner used the tablet, the system identified each with 98 percent accuracy.

“This feature could be used when a child uses her dad’s tablet,” said College of Computing sophomore Premkumar Saravanan. “The system would recognize her touch signature and allow her to use the device. But if she tried to buy an app, the system could prevent it.”

The researchers say LatentGesture’s biggest advantage is that the system is constantly running in the background. The user doesn’t have to do anything different for added security and authentication.

“It’s pretty easy for someone to look over your shoulder while you’re unlocking your phone and see your password,” said Samuel Clarke, another College of Computing student on the research team. “This system ensures security even if someone takes your phone or tablet and starts using it.”

Chau is co-advising the project with Hongyuan Zha, a professor in the School of Computational Science and Engineering. The study will be presented in Toronto at ACM Chinese CHI 2014 from April 26 to 27.

This research was partially supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grants IIS-1049694 and IIS-1116886. Any conclusions expressed are those of the principal investigator and may not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF.

Google wireless network for your mobile soon

Not happy with the current network providers to your mobile phone? You might soon get a better option – Google!

After providing the world’s most popular phone software and offering one of the fastest broadband speeds in the US, Google is now planning to become your mobile network operator.

According to reports in the US media, Google has plans for its own wireless network that customers could use to make calls, send texts and browse the web on their mobiles.

Instead of building masts, however, Google is in talks to buy access to existing 3G and 4G networks at wholesale prices, and sell the connectivity back to customers at a cheaper rate.

In that case, Google would be a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

A mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is a company that offers mobile service plans using existing networks.

MVNOs do not own the infrastructure the networks are built on.

Instead, they buy access to parts of these networks at wholesale prices.

An MVNO is typically run as an independent company, with its own staff and customer service.

The plans would mean Google could cement itself as an internet service provider, and the mobile network would complement its Google Fibre broadband, reports added.

Online Safety: 12-15-year-olds send an average of 255 texts per week.

It’s difficult to be a parent in the digital age. Your kids probably know more about the Internet than you do (you can undo sent emails now?), and they’re using gadgets and apps you’ve never heard of (what’s a Whisper?).

There’s simply no way to keep kids off the web, or to keep smartphones out of their little hands. Instead, arm yourself with knowledge: How are “kids these days” interacting with tech, and how worried should you be?

eBuyer assembled the results of a comprehensive study of kids’ and teens’ online activity. The results range from expected — 95% of 12- to 15-year-olds own at least one smartphone, tablet or other media device — to more surprising — the same age demographic has an average of 78 Facebook friends they’ve never met in real life.

However, despite the mass of online content that might be inappropriate for a young child, most parents (83%) trust their children to use the Internet safely, and a majority (79%) discuss Internet safety with their child.

Take a look at the infographic to learn more about how the digital generation navigates the web.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

digital generation infographic